Suraj Ramnath

"There was a growing demand from our customers for comedy": Amazon's Vijay Subramaniam

We spoke to Vijay Subramaniam, Amazon Prime Video's director and head, content, on the launch of a new original, Comicstaan.

Amazon Prime Video India, the video on demand platform by e-commerce giant Amazon, is launching a nine-episode web-series - Comicstaan - which will be available on the platform from July 13. Comicstaan is a series where 10 contestants from across the country will be chosen to compete for the winning title and mentored by comedian judges who are experts in their respective genres of comedy. The show has been produced by Only Much Louder (OML).

Amazon Prime Video is already promoting the launch of the show through digital platforms. Apart from that, the new show will also be promoted through television and other traditional media.

While the show will be hosted by comedians Abish Mathew and Sumukhi Suresh, the likes of Tanmay Bhat, Kenny Sebastian, Sapan Verma, Naveen Richard, Kaneez Surkha, Kanan Gill, and Biswa Kalyan Rath will guide, mentor and judge the budding talent as they compete each week to win the coveted title.

Comicstaan's first four episodes will be available exclusively to Prime members across 200 countries and territories, starting July 13, 2018, which will be followed by a new episode weekly.

While Amazon Prime Video has had Comedy Specials on the platform before, mostly those where stand-up comedians would perform for 60-80 minutes on stage, Comicstaan is an unscripted reality show.

Talking to afaqs! about the need to launch a web series-based comedy show, Vijay Subramaniam, director and head, content, Amazon Prime Video India, says, "We are guided by our customers' tastes and preferences. There was a growing demand from our customers for comedy. Everyone likes to have a laugh. In the first year, we put up 14 Comedy Specials which did very well for us and now, in 2018, we have 20 Comedy Specials. While working with these wonderful people at OML, we realised there is an opportunity to build a pipeline for comedy in the country and hence, Comicstaan."

He adds, "The whole idea was to get these really talented faces in the world of comedy to mentor and find India's next big stand-up comic and through that, you create a pipeline of talent which also encourages a lot of people to come forward and not be shy about becoming a stand-up comic. So, in many ways, it is extremely helpful for us because it reinforces our commitment to comedy as a genre. It allows us to build a variety we are seeking and the commitment to work with the best comics there are in elevating stand-up comedy in India."

"There was a growing demand from our customers for comedy": Amazon's Vijay Subramaniam

Vijay Subramaniam

We asked Subramaniam if the TG that demanded more comedy shows are the same as the ones who consume 'Inside Edge' or 'Laakhon Me Ek'. He responds, "Well not really. It is important to understand what our customers are telling us. They are seeking a variety with quality because no two customers are the same. You want to pick and choose the things you want to watch depending on the mind frame you are in. So, it is important to serve these customers with all these categories of content which allow them to watch according to their watchlist. Inside Edge is also loved by younger audiences and that's the whole idea. By creating an environment that has high-quality content, the goal is to keep them engaged and involved at a deeper level. All these genres are very important to them as long as we deliver only the highest quality standards and that which is of value to them and convenient for them to use."

Amazon Prime Video plans to launch three more originals in 2018.

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